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UK diesel van numbers rise by one million

The number of diesel vans on UK roads has risen by over a million in the past decade, worsening air pollution, according to a new report

New analysis shows an increase in diesel vans on UK roads, with over a million more added in less than ten years, contributing to worsening air pollution.

Despite a push for electric vehicles (EVs), carbon emissions from vans have surged by 63% since 1990, threatening the UK’s climate targets.

In contrast, carbon emissions from private cars and taxis have decreased by 19% over the same period.

The study by Transport & Environment, a clean transport and energy advocacy group, found that the number of vans on UK roads has risen since 2014, driven by diesel usage.

To combat this trend, the UK’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, set in January 2024, requires 10% of van sales to be zero-emission by 2024, rising to 70% by 2030.

Although the number of electric battery vans in the UK has increased more than sevenfold between 2018 and 2023, the adoption rate still lags behind countries like France, Germany and The Netherlands.

A recent survey by campaigners Clean Cities, involving 4,000 UK adults, revealed that nearly half (49%) of Brits believe the cost of preventing climate change and air pollution should be met by businesses and not individual citizens.

Additionally, over half (51%) support measures such as an extra charge on every Amazon delivery to fund clean air initiatives.

In response, Clean Cities is launching the Clean Cargo Capital campaign, aiming to transform Central London into a business district for zero-emission mobility.

Transport & Environment UK is also urging the government to increase financial incentives for zero-emission vans and enhance infrastructure to boost confidence among potential adopters.

Oliver Lord, UK Head of Clean Cities, emphasised the urgency: “We won’t clean our air or hit our climate goals unless we do more to help businesses switch from polluting diesel vans, which are increasing in record numbers.”

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